Photo by Diana Parkhouse

Update: The economic downturn and uncertainty in the housing market means that selling your home is not as easy as it used to be – not that it was ever a breeze in the first place! Buyers are now much more cautious about the home they choose and want to invest their money wisely. Houses not only need to be in top condition, but also need to make any potential buyer feel they are truly at home. The best way to do this is with some simple home staging; instead of embarking on an extensive remodeling proejct right before you move house, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure your home appeals to any potential buyers viewing your home for the first time.

Staging will help you get top dollar for your home and sell it in the shortest period of time. Imagine potential buyers going through your home. They want to imagine themselves living in your home as if it were theirs. A well staged home will draw buyers in and they will be able to easily imagine living in your beautiful home. They will also be impressed by the care you’ve put into presenting your property. Staging will not only help your home to stand out from the rest, staging will ensure that buyers want to take the next step toward buying your home.

Selling your home fast and for the most money is likely your goal and as you make your plans it is also important to understand the costs that can include staging and other preparations. These costs likely include a commission
Simply cleaning your home is not enough. Staging involves much more than straightening furniture and improving your homes curb appeal. To capture a buyer’s first and lasting impression of your home, you must think of what you see as you go through a stranger’s home. How does the house look and make you feel when you approach the driveway? What odors do you smell as you walk from room to room? Are your eyes drawn to the floor due to the clutter or dark rugs? Is there too much stuff on the mantel? If you noticed them, expect buyers of your own home to notice too. You want to set the “stage” to sell your house, not distract buyers.

Same goes for your kitchen cabinets. Pack away dishes, utensils, and appliances you don’t need immediately. Buyers want to see how much room they have to work with, not how much you’ve collected over the last 8 years. Clearing off your countertops makes the kitchen look much bigger. Use area rugs sparingly. They tend to draw the eyes to the floor and not the rest of the room.

Deep cleaning is another part of “staging” and requires daily maintenance. Remember, buyers will notice things you’ve taken for granted in your daily cleaning. Surfaces like backsplashes, ceiling fan blades, and sliding window frame tracks don’t usually get cleaned, but you’ve got to expect potential buyers to take notice. Don’t take chances. Look at a room from top to bottom and clean every surface. If there are dings and scuffmarks in the walls, fill them smooth with wall board plaster and paint the walls to create a fresh new look. If you have pets, consider asking a friend take them in while the house is being shown.

If you don’t have the time or energy to go through each and every room to stage the house, a professional “stager” is a great asset to the selling process and will offer several types of services to choose from. A professional “sees” your house objectively and can make recommendations you may not have considered. In addition to bringing out the best characteristics of your home, a staging professional will be able to transform your home into an attractive showplace. Stagers are trained to integrate your taste in decorating with subtle accessories and furniture arrangements. If you’re going to have your home photographed for real estate brochures and Internet listings, you’ll want to seriously consider using a staging service before the photographer arrives.

Without spending the extra money on hiring a stager, consider some of the many tips on doing your own staging.

1. Clutter Your photos, displayed collections, knick-knacks, and other personal items will distract a buyer from looking at the spectacular fireplace and wonderful windows. Too much furniture make the room feel smaller and leaves the buyer little room to see their own things. Use only the bare minimum of furniture and store the rest until moving day. Take this opportunity to pack away items you don’t need daily. It helps control clutter and you’re going need to pack it for moving anyway.

2. Windows — Open your windows and let the sun shine in. Clean your windows inside and out, and dust the sills and ledges. Make sure the blinds and drapes are free of dirt, dust, and always open before showing your house. Buyers will feel better about your house when the daylight and sunshine come pouring in.

3. Kitchen — The kitchen you use daily and must keep it absolutely spotless during the selling period. Start by scrubbing cabinet faces, appliances, backsplashes, sinks, and countertops. Clear away items from countertops you don’t immediately need and pack them away. Keep the floor free of debris and dust. Don’t let trash accumulate. Change the garbage liners daily and put the kitchen trashcan away before showing. You’ll also want to clear the magnets and pictures from the refrigerator.

4. Bathrooms — Bathrooms must be kept spotless and sparkling at all times. Scour down the shower stall and bathtub and clean it daily. Scrub down the toilet bowl with a good cleanser and makes sure it stays clean after each use. Replace the old shower curtain for one with a new. Clear as much of the countertops and drawers as possible and pack away what you don’t immediately need. If your bathroom has a window, make sure you clean it and keep the curtains open while showing the house.

5. Clean Up the Yard — This is usually the first step in “curb appeal.” Mowing the lawn, edging the grass, and picking up debris like leaves and twigs are simple things you can do in one day. Take a walk around the house. Clean the windows, trim overgrown shrubs, replace or pack away old ragged furniture, clear weeds, renew mulch, tack down loose wires, and remove toys.

Staging your home is the best investment you can make during the selling process. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, staging your house will help ensure it sells faster and for more money.